Emphasizing Mission and Vision: Board Chair Joey Miller, ’75
The first woman to chair Albion College’s Board of Trustees talks about her expanded role.
March 31, 2022
One month into the job and Joey Miller, ’75, has already rolled up her sleeves and gotten to work as the new Albion College Board of Trustees chair.
“When you sit on Albion’s board as an alum, you’re not just bringing your skills, but you bring your heart,” Miller says about her experience not only as a board member of five years but of her recent election as the chair.
“I can truly appreciate my Albion education. Sitting on the board has helped me realize and revisit once again that the foundation for whatever success I have had, professionally or personally, was acquired while I was a student at Albion,” she continues. “I learned how to learn and it gave me the confidence of going into uncharted territory.”
For Miller, who retired a few years ago as global vice president of information technology for automotive supplier Magna International, that territory is one to which she has grown accustomed. The first woman to become Albion’s board chair has also been, as she says, “the first female in a lot of things.”
“To be a woman executive in the auto industry was not very common, nor was being a woman in the IT world. So, it’s an experience I am familiar with, but I never take it lightly,” Miller says. “It’s a responsibility to be the first female. For anyone in any population who perhaps has been underrepresented, any time you start walking the path, you must look back as well as forward to help those who come after.”
Miller received her B.A. in anthropology from Albion and was a graduate fellow in anthropology and political science at Oberlin College. As board chair, she plans to use the bedrock skills learned through her liberal arts education.
“I like to ask questions; I like to understand,” she says. “I love knowing about all the other departments and the skills that make up Albion College. It’s fascinating. I want to understand how everything fits, how it all complements each other.”
Miller remains involved in the corporate sector building virtual global teams as an executive consultant. As it pertains to team building, she characterizes recent changes in College leadership as a unique moment to pursue that endeavor.
“My focus as chair will be to build a strong, unified team from the whole of the Albion College community,” Miller says. She wants to work with faculty, staff, alumni and the administration to provide the very best education and experiences for our students.
“First, we have to acknowledge that any change is difficult,” she says. “But it’s also an opportunity. Let’s reaffirm who we are and where we are going. It’s important to build a unified community across the campus and with the College partners.”
Miller says that process needs to have a laser focus on mission and vision. Together, they’ll serve as a springboard, especially in the short- to intermediate-term.
“Over the years, I’ve learned to listen and learned the value and respect of listening,” Miller says. “Allow people to have their voice, and consider it, and then move forward. I’ve had to make difficult decisions, but it’s important to base them in fact and then communicate those decisions clearly.”
The resident of the Kalamazoo area plans to do a lot of her listening in person on campus. Miller says she treasured the opportunity to talk with students during a recent campus visit and is eager to set in motion a broader, richer College dialogue.
“I am at the point in my life where I can be truly engaged, and that is a gift,” she says. “I am entering into an enriching, fulfilling experience—particularly on this educational board. With every interaction, I am honored that I get to give back to my alma mater, the place that shaped me.”